Posts Tagged ‘Genesis’

In the midst of one of its less inspiring genealogies, the Bible offers us a brief glimpse at the remote fringe of what must have been a remarkable story. As it is wont to do, rabbinical tradition would fill in the absence of detail regarding a certain Enoch. The biblical text presents this man in its most sparing voice:

When Enoch had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him. When Methuselah had lived one hundred eighty-seven years, he became the father of Lamech.

The comment about Enoch ‘walking with God’ and about God taking him—whatever these things might mean—stands out against a strictly patterned genealogy that merely names biological antecedents, successors, and their respective life spans. (more…)


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The serpent figures in the paradigmatic story of human origins as the Bible’s first cynic. He has strong ideas about the arbitrary nature of God’s decrees and the selfish motive that lies behind them:

But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’

The serpent has some convenient data with which to work. God in fact does not give a reason for his unexpected ring-fencing of just one tree when he has already given the whole ranch over to the first couple. It seems so unreasonable and, certainly, asymmetrical. It is the kind of thing that raises suspicions. (more…)

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Joseph in his maturity is one of the appealing characters of Israel’s patriarchal narratives. We have seen his youthful dreamery and felt a mild revulsion before it. Even the way he toys with his brothers when they come to Egypt in search of grain and do not recognize Joseph in his Egyptian finery leaves one to wonder whether there are still dark demons aflutter in this man’s soul, whether they can ever be tamed now that power’s corrupting agency has joined them there.

Yet in the end Joseph appears to have learned to love and, certainly, to forgive. (more…)

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The patriarchal narratives seem almost inebriated by the destabilizing habit of placing posterity and blessing upon the shoulders of the wrong child. The first-born, time and again, sees circumstances trump his privilege. The lesser becomes the greater. Legacy draws its protagonist from the margins and stations him front and center. (more…)

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With their feet newly planted on dry ground, the survivors of the biblical flood story learn from YHWH himself that the experience will never be repeated. Indeed, dependable regularity will mark the future rather than the systematic dismantling of creation that brought the floodwaters surging up from below and pounding down as incessant rain.

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.

So reads the versed section of twin divine promises not to wipe the earth free of living creatures as he had done in the wake of humanity’s filling up the earth with nothing but bloodshed and violence. The rainbow is identified as YHWH’s covenantal sign that such destruction is not to be feared when the rains come down. (more…)

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